BWW Review: Sedona International Film Festival Presents World Premiere Of WINDOWS ON THE WORLD
Edward James Olmos has distinguished himself as a versatile actor and humanitarian who, in the full scope of his work, has elevated the imagery of Latinos beyond noxious stereotypes. In his latest film, WINDOWS ON THE WORLD, directed by his son, Michael D. Olmos, he plays the role of Balthazar Reynoso, the proud patriarch of a Mexican family who leaves home for New York and the promise of better wages. He finds employment at Windows on the World, the restaurant on the top floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower.
The movie revolves around the quest of his son, Fernando (Ryan Guzman), to find Balthazar in the wake of the September 11th attack that brought the towers down.
In the course of a journey that overcomes the ordeal of the desert and border crossing, that transports him across America to the city that never sleeps, and that deposits him in the center of its devastation, Fernando remains resolute.
A stranger in a strange land, he adapts to his circumstances. He searches without success for his father, frustrated by the magnitude of grief over countless missing persons, and encountering dead-end clues to his whereabouts. He receives a reality-check about the status of undocumented immigrants that is a searing reminder of their dilemma: An official at a 9/11 Family Assistance Center matter-of-factly declares that, if Balthazar didn't officially work at the restaurant, then he's not officially missing!
Fernando is nevertheless the beneficiary as well of fortune's smile. He is graced by the friendship of a Nigerian immigrant (beautifully portrayed by Glynn Turman), who offers him room and board and employment as a window cleaner. He finds support that blooms into romance in the supportive embrace of Lia (Chelsea Gilligan), a candle store proprietor.
His quest also exposes him, however, to the contradictions and complexities of a place and its habitues whose spirits have been momentarily crushed but who are determined to emerge from the ashes whole. He is witness to the cruelty of the alleyways, the vulnerability of the homeless, and the seamy underbelly of the sex club scene.
Fernando is audience to two versions of a New Yorker's perspective on the "Big Apple." And, in this regard, we the audience are treated to two marvelous and engaging cameos by two great performers. Abiodun Oyewole delivers a terrific riff, as a street poet, of The Last Poets' acerbic, if not scathing, ode, New York, New York. In contrast, Rene Auberjonois shines in a karaoke moment of weeping solemnity as he breaks down singing Kander & Ebb's New York, New York, only to have the guys at the bar join in and melt the "little town blues" away.
WINDOWS ON THE WORLD is a film that plays well on the multiple and nuanced meanings of its title (the famed restaurant on the World Trade Center's 107th floor where Balthazar worked; the 43,600 windows of the Twin Towers, behind each pane of which stories were unfolding only to perish; the window cleaning job that was a portal for the next phase of Fernando's journey). In doing so, it manages remarkably well to span a number of relevant social themes with candor and sensitivity, enhanced by Olmos's and Guzman's captivating performances and a stellar supporting cast.
This year's Sedona International Film Festival features the World Premiere of WINDOWS ON THE WORLD.
Photo credit to Worldly Windows Inc.
Sedona International Film Festival ~ https://sedonafilmfestival.com/ ~ 928-282-1177
Saturday, February 23rd through Sunday, March 3rd
Purchase passes at https://sedonafilmfestival.org/purchase-passes/
Multiple venues: Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. Highway 89A; Harkins Theatres, 2081 W. Highway 89A; Sedona Performing Arts Center, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road